Singapore

SMRT, SBS, ST Engineering sign MOU to share engineering knowledge

Rail operators sign MOU with ST Engineering to share engineering knowledge, capabilities

In a move which will see Singapore's two rail operators working formally together for the first time, SMRT and SBS Transit signed a collaboration memorandum of understanding (MOU) with defence and engineering group ST Engineering yesterday.

Under the MOU, the three parties will share engineering knowledge and capabilities in various areas to add depth and breadth to their maintenance and engineering expertise.

At the signing ceremony at the Land Transport Authority's premises in Hampshire Road, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the MOU was "one small step" in Singapore's strategy "to grow our rail industry".

"The MOU will enable SMRT, SBS Transit and ST Engineering to collaborate in the cost-effective development of engineering capabilities for rail operations and maintenance."

He said the trio will "identify and establish collaborative projects or arrangements of mutual interest".

"The aim is to minimise the duplication of resources, and address technology gaps faced by the local industry," the minister added.

The three partners will start working on repairing electronic cards on older trains. Electronic cards control various functions, chiefly communication between train and track equipment. Faulty cards can lead to breakdowns.

"By pooling knowledge and resources in this area, we can diagnose and repair electronic cards more quickly, and reduce service downtime," Mr Khaw said.

Up till now, the two operators had been working on fixing their own electronic card issues. SMRT, for instance, has had an electronic workshop to test and repair electronic cards for several years now.

OUTSOURCED

More complex repairs were at times outsourced to specialists such as ST Engineering and original equipment manufacturers, which often took time. Older and obsolete cards were replaced.

After two massive breakdowns on the North-South Line in 2011, SMRT pledged to accelerate, among other things, its electronic card replacement plan. Electronic cards were found to be the main cause of signalling glitches, accounting for seven in 10 such faults.

The MOU is for three years, but the parties are free to extend it or to expand it beyond electronic cards.

Mr Khaw said: "We have come a long way since I joined the Ministry of Transport in October 2015. The first two years were firefighting, both literally and figuratively. Sometimes, we had to handle floods and once we even had lightning.

"Now that train services have stabilised, we are able to focus on the longer-term strategic issues."

He said Singapore's aim is to have "a good and reliable public transport service which Singaporeans can be proud of", as well as "a sustainable rail industry which offers attractive and stable jobs".

Having rail expertise would also create "opportunities for Singapore enterprises to seize business deals in the region".

Transport